Thursday, April 17, 2008

Day 68 "In the trenches" (seven-eight times edition)

nana-korobi, ya-oki: "Fall down seven times, get up eight times," a Buddhist teaching. When you're as frazzled with end-of-semester burnout as I am (we all are), your ability to cope with disappointing news gets comparably frayed. The kids are frazzled, the fuse is short, my ability to assess critical response accurately is definitely eroded. So when I get a "no guarantees, no Greatest Thing Since Burkholder, we like it but it's clear that as a first-time author you present a bigger contractual risk than someone who's got a successful delivery under your belt" response, it's damned difficult not to, as Katagiri Roshi said, "get tossed away." But ultimately, it's not going to matter how you feel about the situation; what matters is what you do with how that feels. It's going to make a difference in how you feel; but is it going to make a difference in what you do?

Further to yesterday's post--this does not mean that you ain't gonna feel bad when you hit a roadblock. If you're prone to feeling shitty after one of those, rest assured you still will. But, what you do learn as you age is that this feeling bad is a process: it's got its stages, and you're going to go through all of them--including the hurtful parts. Ain't no point in trying to avoid it; you will feel bad. But what you learn is that, after some time, you'll stop feeling bad, and begin to regain some perspective.

If you know this, and remember it the next time you get hit with disappointment, then you recognize that you don't have to take any actions in the midst of the freakout, because they'll likely be ill-advised anyway. So you take your hands off the computer keyboard, or say goodbye politely and hang up the phone gently, or wait an extra 3 seconds before responding in a conversation, or wait overnight before you call somebody back, knowing that you'll probably think straighter later. It's easier to do this when you know that after some length of time you'll feel better.

And, the whole disappointment might feel a little less bad or permanent. And then you'll be glad you didn't react sooner.

Patience is a real practical virtue.

Below the jump: two admired leaders, each of whom has taught me a lot about patience [thanks to Mac Tire for the photo].

No comments: